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Old 01-13-2011, 10:27 PM #1
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Default Shining into U.S. Skies.

I tried my best to use the search feature but came up empty handed on this exact subject, so i'm sorry if this has been answered and I missed it. I have been told by a few friends (who are by know means knowledgeable on lasers) that it is illegal to shine into night skies. Not just at planes, but into the sky in general. Not that I take what they say about it to heart, but I would just like to positively clarify, that as long as I am not damaging, causing a problem, or hitting an aircraft.. can I legally shine my lasers into the night sky in the U.S.?

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Old 01-13-2011, 10:44 PM #2
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

Technically it's illegal unless you have a variance from the FDA for lasers over 5mw,but aslong as you don't hit no planes or shine near a airport you should be fine. Just make sure there are no planes in the area when you shine.
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Old 01-14-2011, 12:06 AM #3
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

Someone should put a friggin mirror in space!

That way i could legally shine a laser into US skies from europe
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:02 PM #4
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

Technically you need an FDA variance for anything over 5mw. In reality as long as you're not shining at planes or doing anything stupid you'll be fine.
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Old 01-15-2011, 03:28 AM #5
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

It's a much misinformed topic you've raised. Unless laser law has recently changed there's no federal law prohibiting such an activity by a hobbyist. I pondered this question a few years ago. I checked the *CDRH site nothing . I went to pangolin forum no one heard of such a law. Went to ILDA asked Greg Makov again nothing. Believe it or not the CDRH does not govern what hobbyists do with their lasers the caveat would be unless you happen to put on a commercial display or display your lasers contained within a commercial venue.

To anyone. If I'm mistaken please post the relevant information.

*I read through the CDRH docs several times after awhile it became clear the the CDRH jurisdiction oversees commercial enterprise and product.
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Old 01-15-2011, 03:51 AM #6
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

I'm going out side right now and shine my laser into the night sky
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:05 AM #7
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

Make that 2 of us
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:11 AM #8
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

3 of Us. and it's nice and foggy out.
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Old 01-15-2011, 06:33 AM #9
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

From what I understand it's a little of both. CDRH regs do apply to *public performances* and *public spaces*.

On your own private land, you can shine a laser wherever you want -- so long as the beam stays on your land, of course.

Up in the sky is a "gray area" when it comes to this. You don't own the airspace over your land; but it's not really a "public space" either. Though all airspace in the US is categorized as Class A,B,C,D,E or G - Most of what you're going to deal with above your house (unless you live within ~5-6 nautical miles of an airport) is going to be class E or G; Class G being uncontrolled. But that's the FAA's territory not the CDRH's, so it gets kind of confusing:

-The CDRH is a REGULATORY body, not a law enforcement body; they regulate DEVICES, and their classifications, and what is/isnt an accepted use. The CDRH operates -under- the FDA. The FDA is a 'superset' of the CDRH and their regs.

-The FAA is an administrative body, with law enforcement capabilities, but they do not deal directly with lasers (and I've looked; any 'illumination' talk via the FAA is not in FAR/AIM, but it is a 'notice'; not neccessarily a law.) - What the FAA will get you on is 'interfering with operation of aircraft' or the like. Which, to be completely honest, could occur if you point a searchlight at a plane, too. Though I would not be surprised if laser specific sections were incorporated into FAR/AIM soon; they are updated every year.

-The FDA does have enforcement powers - FDA CFR 21 doesn't deal directly with people and how they behave with lasers. It deals with regulation on what laser products are offered. Variances also deal with devices; but if you operate a device incorrectly without obtaining a variance, you, as the operator, can get in trouble.

For some retro reading: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Medical.../UCM119257.pdf


So, in essence, yes, as the other folks said, so long as you don't shine it at a plane you'll be fine (barring some overzealous neighbor or police officer) - just kind of wanted to bring up the 'why'. There are some more "pro" folks here who could probably add a lot more.

The reason I don't generally try to attract attention with my laser, though, is a misinformed cop could come by and give you a bad week. ie., "by the time you get your RPL back, it might be in pieces."
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:34 PM #10
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Default Re: Shining into U.S. Skies.

Thanks for the response guys, I'll keep all of this in mind.
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